” Heroes. Giants. Villains. Wizards. True Love. ”
“This isn’t just your basic, average, everyday, ordinary, run-of-the-mill, ho-hum Hoof deck.”
I’m sitting in my stable after riding my horse, and I decide to partake in my favourite pastime: tormenting our farm boy. Whenever I bossed him around, he would never reply with anything but ” as you wish. ” Except this day I was amazed to discover that when he was saying ” as you wish ” he was really saying ” I love you. ” I too, realized I loved him and our true love blossomed underneath the setting sun. I gaze upon a night sky so filled with stars, it makes my eyes panic. I turn to our farm boy, and say ” I love you Craterhoof Behemoth. ” As he is about to respond, I wake up.
I awake in a daze. Heartbroken and realizing that a true love like ours might never come to fruition again, I decide to mend my shattered soul with some breakfast.
As I’m about to leave, I’m reminded of how there are certain things in life that are ” the nut, ” but also certain things that are ” classic blunders. ” Going out for breakfast is clearly THE NUT.
However, I made the classic blunder of going to breakfast with the one man who would soon be my demise, Jeremy White.
While we’re eating breakfast, I throw up in my mouth a bit and briefly consider poisoning Jeremy’s food after he tells me he’s going to be on Reanimator at MNH. I don’t poison his food, and I also order a mediocre hash. After breakfast Jeremy turns to me and says:
” We could build highlander decks together, but I do not think you would accept my help, because I’m only waiting around to kill you.”
That did put a damper on our relationship.
Classic Blunders Tally – 3
The NUT Tally – 1
After going home and doing some cleaning, I try to beat Seymour Flux in Final Fantasy X, but fail. The conditions of Mt.Gagazet are as unforgiving as going in against a Sicilian when death is on the line. I digress.
After my shameful defeat, I take a look at my 100 and decide to try something out. I take out all of my points except Natural Order. I think I’m on to something. I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while, and with all of the recent discussion about pointing Cradle or not, I decide it’s time to test something out.
The Experiment: Can Hoof function when Natural Order is 10 points?
How would pointing Gaea’s Cradle affect the overall composition of the deck? Does pointing Gaea’s Cradle do what you want it to do?
There has been lots of discussion over this topic lately, ( which is great, and discussion is what makes our community amazing ) but no one has applied any experiments at all.
I throw Hoof in my bag and head out in search of my fortune across the sea!
I arrive at Yellowjacket in classic Scumbag Trenton fashion, exactly at 6 o’clock. I sit down across from fellow council member Spencer Kanaka, and let him in on my experiment. Spencer says he hates Mana Crypt and Mana Vault anyways. I disagree.
With that, the round starts and I head over to my first opponent!
Match 1 vs Bernie Nelles
Game 1 – After our normal amount of jovial memeage, I mulligan to first 5 and Bernie mulls to first 6. I won the dice roll, so I start the game with Birds of Paradise. Bernie uses Strip Mine on my forest and I have no further lands in hand. I’m an absolute lucksack and I draw a second land. I pass, having a hand of Eternal Witness, Courser of Kruphix, and Xenagos, the Reveler. Bernie plays Mountain + Mox Ruby and passes. I draw another land off the top and play an eternal witness so I can make my 4th land drop. Bernie plays a threat, and I drop Xenagos the next turn. Bernie also has Xenagos but I’m able to get in with a BOP using Wolf Run to kill it. After a couple of turns my Wolf Run turns lethal with a Gaea’s Cradle that I found with Expedition Map.
Game 2 – I keep first 6, while Bernie goes to first 5. Bernie has a reasonable aggressive start with a Kird Ape, but I play turn 3 Huntmaster of the Fells, and shortly thereafter kill them with Chord of Calling end step, into a Green Sun’s Zenith for Craterhoof the next turn.
Gaea’s Cradles Seen – 1
Natural Orders Seen – 0
We finish pretty early and Bernie had invited me to get pizza, I joked around and made them believe I didn’t want to. Bernie leaves without me and I starve.
Classic Blunders – 4
The NUT – 1
Match 2 vs Robin Gabriel
Game 1, I win the die roll and we both keep and I play Turn 1 Hierarch into Turn 2 Archdruid into Turn 3 Natural Order for Ruric Thar, the Unbowed and Wasteland his black source. Robin Scoops.
Game 2, We both keep and Robin plays turn 1 Pyrite Spellbomb. With a Deathrite Shaman in my hand, I fetch a Bayou and I play a Boreal Druid. Robin doesn’t take the bait, plays a land and passes the turn. I have Eternal Witness in hand, so I play a Nest Invader and Deathrite on Turn 2 in hopes of him killing my Deathrite on his turn with the Spellbomb. He EOT casts anticipate and then untaps, and kills my Deathrite and passes. I cast Sylvan Scrying to find Cradle and then cast Noble Hierarch, play Cradle and cast Eternal Witness with 1 mana floating so I can recast my Deathrite. Robin cantrips a bunch, but can’t seem to find the kill or an answer to my Deathrite. Next turn I cast a Primeval Titan for Nykthos and Wasteland, with a Cradle and Wolf Run already in play. Holding up my black mana for Deathrite, Robin does some looting and then concedes.
Cradles – 2
Natural Orders – 1
Robin and I talk about the recent discussion about pointing Cradle, and the Storm vs Hoof match-up in general.
Jer asks me if I want to grab food. We go and this is the second chance I had to poison his food, but alas, I fail.
Classic Blunders – 5
The NUT – 1
Our food takes approximately 7 years, and we get back just in time to not lose the first game. Woo!
Match 3 vs Nelson Salahub
Game 1, I tell Nelly I’m sorry for being late, and we chat a little bit before wishing each other luck in our match. I win the die roll and keep a hand without Turn 1 mana dork, but it was a solid hand. I play land, Nelson plays Thoughtseize. He takes my 2-mana accelerant and I cry a little inside. We play land go until turn 3 where I play an Elvish Archdruid. He plays Turn 3 Read the Bones, but he never really establishes a board. I establish a board with Cradle and am able to close out the game with an EOT Caller of the Claw into exactly lethal through a Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet and Maze of Ith ( I definitely mess up the math though, and almost screw myself.) However, Bitterblossom on his side gets me that one extra life point I need. )
Game 2, I have a fast hand but no payoff card, until I draw a Woodland Bellower. I play Bellower when Nelly has Jet Medallion and Hedron Archive in play, get Reclamation Sage for the Archive, and then he casts Consume the Meek on his next turn!
Luckily, I had held back some creatures in my hand for this situation. Bellower gets in and I begin to rebuild with a Dryad Arbor and Scryb Ranger. Nelson plays a Wurmcoil at some point, and I play Garruk, Primal Hunter to draw 6 cards. The cards I draw aren’t actually amazing, but I did draw a Regal Force to get another shot. Nelly kills my Woodland Bellower with Ob Nixilis, the Planeswalker and then attacks me with Wurmcoil engine. I cast Regal force and draw Birds of Paradise, Craterhoof Behemoth and Lands. I play Birds, accepting that if he has wrath I’m just dead. He doesn’t draw Wrath with 3 draw steps, and I untap and play Cradle into Hoof for the win.
Cradles – 4
Natural Orders – 1
After playing, Nelly and I always talk about different plays that we could have made. It’s probably my favourite thing about playing Nelson.
Classic Blunders – 6 ( Garbage Combat Math )
The NUT – 1
I try to eat my food, but damn is it a full box. I make a huge mess and feel like a disgrace.
Match 4 vs Greg
Game 1, I introduce myself, and Greg says that we played a couple of years ago at a pre-release. Apparently I crushed while they were new, sorry Greg!. Greg wins the Roll with boxcars, and precedes to mulligan to second 6 lamenting that the luck ran out with the boxcars. Lucky for me mine didn’t and I keep 7. Greg plays Zurgo and passes, I play Elf Turn 1. Greg plays Keldon Marauders and attacks. I take it, and play Rofellos into Cradle for 2 mana to make a Rattleclaw Mystic unmorphed. Greg thinks for a bit, attacks, and then casts Searing Spear on my Rofellos. I play Thespian’s Stage with Crop Rotation in hand, and pass the turn. Greg’s Marauder’s die and they play a Burning-Tree Emissary into a Lightning Bolt to kill my Rattleclaw. I still have enough mana to Crop Rotation for Dark Depths and make a 20/20. Greg scoops.
Game 2, Greg mulligans to first 5, and I keep a pretty solid two-lander. Greg starts the pressure early with a Monastery Swiftspear. I play an Elf, and it dies to a Chain lightning. I play Devoted Druid. Greg plays Abbot of Keral Keep and reveals Collateral Damage. Attacks with Swiftspear and ultimately decides to trade Swiftspear for my Devoted Druid after mulling it over. I fail to draw a Third land, and pass the turn. A Hell’s Thunder puts me to 10, and I draw a Scryb Ranger. I play it and return a forest to play. Greg casts Lava Spike and I chump with my Ranger. End step I cast Worldly Tutor for Wall of Blossoms, cast it and draw a Boreal Druid. 7-20 for Greg. I pass. Greg plays land and attacks with Hellspark. 3-20 for Greg. I finally get the chance to cast a Kitchen Finks that’s been laughing at me since my opening hand, and go back up to 5. Greg draws and passes, I draw a land and cast Garruk Relentless and fight my own Kitchen Finks to get me to 7. Just trying to live to cast this Thragtusk in my hand. Greg says sure and casts a 4 damage burn spell. 3-20 for Greg. fails to draw a 3 damage burn spell, passes the turn. I don’t draw a land, attack with Finks and play a Kozilek’s Predator. Greg casts Wild Slash to put me to 1, and doesn’t draw the burn spell. I cast Thragtusk next turn and kill him shortly thereafter.
Cradles – 5
Natural Orders – 1
Greg and I discuss the Collateral Damage line, and ultimately decide it is probably more correct to sacrifice the Abbot, assuming that you have chosen to cast the Collateral Damage at all. I am reminded of one of my favourite Princess Bride quotes,
” There’s a big difference between mostly dead, and all dead. Mostly dead, is slightly alive. All dead, well with all dead there’s only one thing you can do. Go through his clothes and look for loose change. ”
No one would ever find out if I had loose change.
Classic Blunder – 6
The NUT – 1
I try and eat an MLT ( Mutton, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich ) but alas, I must play the finals.
Match 5, The Finals vs Jeremy White
Game 1, Before our Match, Jeremy looks at me and says ” So, it is down to you, and it is down to me. ” Since I cut Mana Crypt, Summoner’s Pact and Mana Vault, I concur and tell him that I have ” fallen victim to one of the classic blunders. ” Reanimator is a tough match-up, but I’ve been building up an immunity to Iocane Powder for quite some time, I’m sure I could handle a measly Reanimator deck! I am wrong. I almost kill him in game 1, but he has 3 draw steps to find a land to cast living death putting Iona and Platinum Emperion in play. Gross. At some point this game, Jer copies Sire of Insanity from his graveyard and screams ” THE CLIFFS OF INSANITY! ”
Game 2, I don’t even quite remember what happened during this game. I think Jeremy said something about Australia being entirely peopled with criminals? It was weird. He kept spouting off about how Plato, Aristotle and Socrates were morons. Anyways, I think about playing with my left hand but Jer knows that old trick, so I draw cards with my right. This game is kind of hopeless after he lands an Iona, and I extend the hand. The battle of wits is done!
Cradles – 5
Natural Orders – 1
Jer and I discuss how there wasn’t really much I could do, and then he says something about how starting a war is a very prestigious line of work with a long and glorious tradition.
” NEVER GO IN AGAINST JER, WHEN HIGHLANDER IS ON THE LINE. AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! ”
– Jeremy White, May 16th 2016.
( I don’t have notes for this Match because it was being recorded )
Classic Blunders – Infinity
The NUT – 1
Even having lost, I still feel a closer connection with my true love, Craterhoof Behemoth.
Relevant Cradles – 4
Irrelevant Cradles – 1 ( 2nd Game against Nelly, already had enough mana )
Winning Natural Orders – 1
Losing Natural Orders – 0
Points Spread – Natural Order (5)
Total Points – 5
Classic Blunders – Indefinite
The NUT – 1 ( Breakfast is amazing )
Conclusion: I’m glad that people are discussing things constantly in our community, and I understand peoples concern with the Craterhoof deck. However, I don’t believe pointing Cradle is the way to go. If Cradle is pointed, the points spread becomes : Cradle, Summoner’s Pact, Mana Crypt and Natural Order. Losing Mana Vault. However, as long as people play midrange, it doesn’t matter what kind of points you give Craterhoof because it’s designed to beat those decks. By pointing Hoof further, you’re weakening it’s combo match-up which is already pretty abysmal to begin with. I only played a relevant Cradle in 3 of my games against all the aggro/midrange decks I played against. As well as I never played Natural Order against any of the aggro/midrange decks. Yet I still went undefeated until the finals, very well showcasing that while these cards are powerful, the inherent nature of the deck is something that is designed to beat those strategies. If you want to beat Craterhoof, you need to be prepared. If Natural Order was 9 points, and Cradle was 1 point, the deck would still be consistently beating the aggro/midrange shells. However, I am still going to be venturing and playing just Natural Order for the time being, just to see what sort of effect it has on the deck, for the purposes of gathering more information for all of us. Any input and discussion is greatly appreciated, and I look forward to battling with Natural Order at 10 points.
If there are any other ideas as to what I could do to collect further information, just let me know!
-Trenton “Scumbag” McIntrye
” NOT TO 50!!!”